In order to truly win in life and live it to the fullest, it is important for you to let go of your anxieties, and work towards conquering your fears.
Fear is a thief. If left unchecked it will rob you of joy, leaving anxious concerns about the future in its stead. By whispering a million reasons not to take action, it steals opportunities that would otherwise make your heart pound with excitement and lead to a life more fully lived.
If not confronted and forced to retreat, fear will eventually introduce you to its cousin, regret. Like an unwelcome hospice worker who insists on remaining nearby until the very end, regret shuffles around the rooms of your life constantly reminding you of what ‘might have been.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson wryly noted that “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”
In my clinical practice, it is the most common thing found at the root of people’s problems. Yes, there are many other reasons related to why someone seeks counseling, but almost always fear is somewhere in the mix.
I am not alone in making this observation. Speak to any therapist about this subject and you will hear stories of the pernicious impact that fear extracts. What’s more, this impact is not limited to those who seek counseling. With that in mind, I asked colleagues from across the United States to offer some insights into why it is important to push back against fear.
Let’s look at ten reasons you should put a bullseye on the back of your anxieties.
1. Ben Eckstein
Ben Eckstein is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Durham, North Carolina, notes that by facing your fears you begin to change how your brain works.
“When our brain guesses that there might be a danger, it uses anxiety as a way to give us a warning. If we choose to face our anxiety, we demonstrate to our brain that its warning was unnecessary. Our brain then becomes less likely to activate that warning system in similar circumstances in the future.”
2. Karen Koenig
A second reason to face fear, according to therapist Karen Koenig, is that “Our fears are often leftover from childhood and have nothing to do with today. They’re memories of what happened if we tried this or did that, usually based on a handful of dysfunctional people.”
Very likely there are more than enough dysfunctional people trying to influence your life in the present, so it is difficult to see the advantage of having similarly impaired people from your past do the same.
3. Rachel Perlstein
Expanding your sense of freedom is another advantage people gain when confronting anxiety.
Rachel Perlstein, who has a private practice in New York, observes that “People often feel very trapped by their fears and the world can feel very small/limited. When someone takes the steps to face what is scaring them, it can feel like the world gets a bit larger, more open, and carries opportunity. Once they see that the worst-case scenario does not happen or that they can handle a worst-case scenario if it happens, it allows them to engage in the world in a different, more liberated manner.”
4. Lauren Cook
Lauren Cook, from the University of San Diego, has seen how conquering fears can frequently lead to unexpected interpersonal changes.
“Relationships become lighter: When we are fearful, we are constantly in our minds. It’s harder to engage with others because we may be worried about what they think of us or we simply don’t have the mental capacity to connect with them. You’ll find yourself laughing more, being in the moment, and valuing your relationships that much more when you’ve met your fears.”
5. Kim Chronister
Kim Chronister, a psychologist in Beverly Hills, California, encourages her clients to curb and stomp their fears by observing that “Facing your fears results in being more respected by your peers. It is admirable to go for your dreams because there are risks involved which is why many will respect you facing your fears and hopefully you will inspire others.”